Local Heart, Global Soul

February 18, 2011

The Tragedy and Comedy that is “les fugitifs”…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Once upon a time I worked as a shift worker in New Zealand.

One of my shift co-workers was a fan of art house and foreign films, there was a cinema in the centre of the city that showed these films, short runs, all sorts.

Not just a colleague but also a friend he knew that I sometimes went to see movies there and since I was the only person he knew who was really into these films, (and visa versa) sometimes we would go together.

One evening as our shift rotation started, he came into work, rushed up to me asking me to please go with him to the movies as soon as possible on our next shift evening off… he said he had gone alone to a film the evening before on a whim and I just had to go see this movie before the run ended.

He really wanted to see it again too, so could we go together?

I was intrigued… I said yes, and the evening after our evening shifts ended we went to the movie.

It was in French, subtitles in English provided. The  1986 movie was ” Les Fugitifs”.  The Director is Francis Veber and it stars Gérard Depardieu,  Pierre Richard and Jean Carmet. It was priceless.

We laughed out loud with tears of laughter and at the soppyness  in equal measure and went a further three times together to the same movie.  We would have gone more times but it’s  run in the theater ended before our next rotation of evening shifts did.

I tracked down the Video and played it often, I lent it out to friends and eventually it was at someone else’s place more than at mine. One day I wanted to watch it again and found that I couldn’t remember who I’d lent it to last. I asked around to no avail.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Years passed. I kept looking for another copy of the film without success, then later I didn’t look at all because my financial resources were so low that I barely had any budget for food.  Priorities. But I never forgot.

Eventually my finances improved and I started to track down several movies that had met the same fate as my original of  “les fugitifs “. This one took me the longest to track down.

I couldn’t get hold of another copy locally with English subtitles but since I now speak French this is not an issue.  I suspect that the English subtitle versions are only available in English speaking counties, since I know they exist.

When I finally got it my heart leapt. (Friends may feel free to watch it with me,  but on my sofa, as this copy ain’t going nowhere LOL)

I won’t spoil the story but will say one thing, there is another version (English language) of this film that featured Nick Nolte … I’ve seen it and was disappointed beyond words. The two versions are light years apart.

I don’t know exactly when and how I fell in seriously love with foreign language films, but this was the movie that inspired me to actually collect them over the years.

Every now and again I’d like to tell you about one of  the films in my collection and of this one, I can highly recommend that you seek it out in your local video hire shop if it’s at all possible.


  1. Oh dear, I have seen this version by Gérard Depardieu. I guess it was sometimes when I visited in Paris with my children because they speak French; I am not speaking, just mumbling. He is one of my favorite film star in French world. If You have seen movies Asterix, in these movies he is so awesome.

    I love also Nick Nolte, but the same film by him, I do not know.

    Thank You for this post.

    Happy week-end.

    Comment by sartenada — February 18, 2011 @ 10:45 am | Reply

    • I’m not sure by your comment if you enjoyed the movie or not? The French are masters of saying a lot using very little, much is implied, they expect the audience to think and to come to the correct conclusion if given the right sequence of hints. The humour is very French, with comical moments made out of the most simple everyday events, expressions and very much choosing exactly the right actor for the part. I loved this film when I saw it with subtitles, now that I speak (enough) French I’m loving it even more “undiluted”.
      Oh! I totally forgot to mention Asterix, isn’t it BRILLIANT!?

      Comment by kiwidutch — February 19, 2011 @ 7:34 am | Reply

      • Yes, I liked it very much. Asterix is great and nowadays there some real movies also, not only comics. I love them also. Last time I saw one with Michael Schumacher (Formel 1) and he knew how to play, I think. 🙂

        Comment by sartenada — February 22, 2011 @ 7:30 am | Reply

        • I wasn’t sure from your first comment if you liked it or not, great to hear that you liked it too 🙂

          Comment by kiwidutch — February 24, 2011 @ 2:41 pm | Reply

  2. Sweet story….what is a shift worker?

    Comment by milkayphoto — February 18, 2011 @ 8:38 pm | Reply

    • Tracy,
      A shift worker is someone who doesn’t work regular daytime hours… typically a “shift” can be something like working from 06:00 am until 14:00 pm, or 14:00-22:00 or a full (though the) night shift. Shifts can be rotating (often one week per time slot) or permanent. Since “Shift work(er)” is the only word I know (in English) to describe this I’m very curious to know the name you have to describe people who work these kind of hours?

      Comment by kiwidutch — February 19, 2011 @ 8:10 am | Reply

  3. […] When I did a search on my blog I was a little shocked that it’s been two years since my last film post: https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/new-312/. […]

    Pingback by Post This One Onto Your Bucket-List… | Local Heart, Global Soul — March 24, 2013 @ 1:01 am | Reply

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